five things I love about Boston

Five Things I Love About Boston

As promised here is my glowing review of Boston, in the form of five things I love about Boston. We spent about a full two days here, but the first half day was a bit rough, we had bad weather and a lot of things were closed. I spent most of the time being so wet and cold I could hardly think. But our full day dawned sunny and almost warm.

We started the day with a full Irish Breakfast, so thing one I love about Boston is Irish Pubs that serve breakfast, just like the good lord intended. The coffee was great, the breakfast was HUGE, sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, tomato, beans, mushrooms, and french fries.

My second favorite thing about Boston is all the book stores. We went on the bookstore extravaganza specially because I wanted to see Brattle Books alley of used books. But as it happened to be raining sideways the books were not in the alley. Non the less we did spend a few hours inside. You probably won’t find any New York Times Bestsellers, but you will find everything else and its amazing.

My third favorite thing about Boston is Polcari’s Coffee shop. And while it could be said that the whole of North Boston is a sight to behold and I would have given up my nice house in the country to live in a cramped crooked apartment just for the atmosphere alone. But there is something very special about Polcari’s and if you are ever in the area you should go. At least twice.


My fourth favorite thing is the Greenway which I of course didn’t get a single picture of. We spent the better part of the afternoon drinking tea, sitting in the sun and watching people pass by. It was a lovely thing to see, especially after the previous dreary day.

My fifth favorite thing is all the architecture, it feels a bit cheap but honestly I could have spent a week just taking picture of architectural details. What the west coast gets right in food, we get so wrong in architecture, so I really love being in places that actually have interesting buildings to look at.

And there ya have it, five things I love about Boston. To be fair I love a lot more than 5 things. But ya gotta be catchy and interesting in this blog game.

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the thing about getting from Portland to Boston

The Thing About Getting From Portland to Boston

The thing about getting from Portland to Boston in the middle of a global pandemic, in spring, is that while the distance is not long, it certainly took us a while. Made more complicated by the fact that we could have driven the entire distance in one day but we chose not to.

The first interesting thing to note when we left Portland is that we drove through Biddeford, which at the time, we knew nothing about but went literally slack jawed when we saw the beautiful old mill buildings and the waterfall that runs through the center, the waterfall that was once used to help power the mills. I found out later that one of my favorite Christmas Movies was filled here. Holly Star is an independent film that used to be on Netflix but I think it has since been taken down.

We drove through to Newburyport in a very cozy inn and had a delicious hot meal in a pub a short distance from the inn. And I got hardly any pictures of the entire experience because the weather was so bad, it was dark and raining and cold and we mostly just played cards in our rooms and drank tea.

Our stop the next morning was to see Gloucester I think because we wanted to have high tea. But as we got closer the weather got worse, we not rain, and wind and then some snow. And by the time we got to town either everyone had shut down due to weather, or due to covid. So we settled on finding breakfast and heading toward Boston. Though funny enough finding breakfast even proved to be challenging, likely because of one or both of the reasons mentioned above. We eventually found a worker type diner that was serving breakfast, and once again it was delicious and cheap. I highly recommend Zeke’s Place if you are in the area, they were so kind.

The next day we headed back out toward Boston, stopping of course in Salem. For one reason and one reason only. To visit Max Dennison’s house. In reality I wanted to see all the filming locations for Hocus Pocus, but as it turns out Salem is not the nice small town portrayed in the movie. Rather it is a terrifying tourist trap town with too much traffic. It is one of the few places I can say with confidence I don’t want to return. I am sad though that the House of Seven Gables was closed (covid) because I would have loved to see the interior. Instead I just did my usual sneaking about the premises trying to get a good picture.

The thing I didn’t know about Salem going into the visit was that it is a suburb of Boston. We decided we needed a slower pace so we moved on to the Boston Airport to return our rental car, stow our bags at our hotel and catch the train downtown. And you would think I was kidding but there was legitimately less traffic in Boston than Salem.

Admittedly I didn’t love Boston the first day. The weather held strong and by the time we figured out how to use the train, buy tickets, get downtown, hit a couple book stores, it was dark, I was soaked and frozen. I also got stalked by a women on presumably a large about of drugs that kept just shouting “CAPE COD”. I was in fact wearing a hat I bought earlier in the trip that said Cape Cod on it, but it wasn’t the best welcome into a new city. Luckily the next day turned out to be beautiful and I truly did love Boston. But more on that next time.

So that was our slight misadventure, that really did turn out wonderful getting from Portland Maine to Boston. And that concludes the thing about getting from Portland to Boston, next time I will wrap the trip up with gushing remarks about Boston.

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Mystic to Concord

Mystic to Concord

Our next main stop after Mystic was Portland Maine, however it is a bit of a drive. So we found a few things in the in-between that might be interesting to see and decided on a night in Concord New Hampshire. This is the chronicle of our drive from Mystic to Concord.  As a side note if you don’t have a blog you may not realize that there are some SUPER annoying rules that have to be followed in order for google and other search engines to pick up your content. One of them is repeating the exact title of your article many times in the body as well as making sure they are bold, italic and underlined, which is why sometimes I have to write super cheesy dumb things. Moving on.

Mystic to Concord was one of the more interesting aspects of your trip in that I knew approximately nothing about this part of New England and thus had zero expectations. The night before we left I found a abandoned hospital building that I wanted to drive by. So before hitting the road properly we stopped at ‘Young Buns’ in Mystic which had gluten free doughnuts. Thus heading out armed with sugar and coffee we made our way to our first stop in Waterford Connecticut, the Seaside Sanitorium. The hospital was built in the 1930s in the Tudor Revival style as a children’s tuberculosis facility, though they also had wards dedicated to elderly and mental care. It was two buildings a rather beautiful but smaller dorm style building and a larger more hopsital like facility that had some less than lovely additions to it over the years. The hospital began to fall into disuse as early as the 1940s because of advancements in TB treatment, after which it became a full time elderly care hospital until the 60s. After which it became a rather notoriously known mental facility which was shut down in the 90s due to irrefutable evidence of abuse and mistreatment. In 2014 the property was bought by the state with the intention preserving it as a state park and land mark. Today the buildings remain untouched and gated but the grounds were very lovely. We enjoyed our coffee and doughnuts and the carried on our merry way.

After Waterford we took a detour around New Haven to look at Yale. Unfortunately the entire campus was closed off to visitors and the weather was not terribly friendly. We took a couple loops admiring what we could see and then hit the road again with a more substantial meal on our mind. We ended up finding a brunch location in Hartford. Hartford looked like a really cool town and I wish we could have had more time to look around but we had a lot of miles to put under us so we kept moving toward Concord. About halfway through the day we stopped at an Aldi’s in Worcester. Another town I wish we had more time to explore. All I really got was the view from the freeway but the density of turn of the century brick building made for quite a sight.




We finally got to Concord around dinner time. Which gave us about an hour to explore the area a bit before we lost light. The most interesting thing I randomly found was a rather large First Church of Christ Scientist, or Christian Science. You have probably seen Christian Science reading rooms around, it seems like most towns have them but this was the first church I have ever stubbled on. Mary Baker Eddy the founder was from Boston so I suppose it shouldn’t have been a suprise that the churches would be more prominent on the East Coast. If you don’t know much about the movement but have any fascination with weird twisted history I would highly suggest doing some digging. If you can handle really crude jokes ‘The Last Podcast on the Left’ has an excellent series on her. Our real reason for stopping in Concord was to seen the State House, which happens to be oldest state capitol in which both houses of the legislature meet in their original chambers. It was a beautiful building though not exactly showing off on such a grey day. And sadly as is the theme of so many trips the last couple years, closed for pandemic reasons.


We had a nice dinner in an Irish Pub type place, hit the local book store and then made our way back to the Hampton Inn Concord/Bow hotel. It turned out to be one of my favorite hotels. Very newly remolded, quiet, clean and easy to find. All in all our very long drive from Mystic to Concord was a success. Next stop was Portland Maine.

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12 Hours on Cape Code Massachusetts

Day two of our New England road trip meant that were we to spend about 12 Hours on Cape Code Massachusetts. We took off right after our picnic breakfast in Plymouth and headed out on the cape (do people call it that?). As usual we tried to stay off the major highways, which obviously makes the trip take much longer but it also means you get to see random things that you would otherwise miss. Because of our general slow meandering drive we stumbled upon a large court house with some interesting statues out front and decided to make a stop to investigate.



We truthfully at the time didn’t have a clue where we were, taking backroads means you often miss the traditional “Welcome to…” or “Next Exit…” signs that help you figure out where in the world you actually are. It was Barnstable which happens to be the county seat and largest populated area on the cape. Which you would never guess by the look of the place, as it was about one block long and not much else. We parked outside an antique store I wanted to go into, and then realized maybe it was someone’s house as the owners were sitting on the porch. I sheepishly walked across the street to the courthouse, pretending my intention the entire time was to wish them good morning. It had a number of statues but I was most intrigued with Mercy Otis Warren. It is not often you see statues dedicated to women, no this isn’t political commentary it’s just a simple fact. As it turns out as the statue stated Mercy was born and lived in Barnstable and was instrumental in the independence movement. I spent a lot of the evening reading up on her and her husband, being reminded how little of our history we are  taught. We also popped into a small grocery store for some snacks and coffee then hit the road to Provincetown.


Provincetown was packed. We always manage to find ourselves places during long weekends and holidays and this weekend was no exception. The town has a year round population of about 3K but during the high season about 60K can be seen staying and wandering around the small inland facing port town. I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked because there were so many people it just felt like I was taking pictures of strangers. But I couldn’t resist this adorable little restaurant called the Lobster Pot, with as few tourists as possible in the way.


My  favorite thing in town was the Provincetown Bookshop, which was quite small and had a small collection of popular books. But the real appeal was the huge collection of local artists and Provincetown themed books. A lot of books have been written to take place in this little town. I ended up nabbing a free historical fiction by a local author that took place during the civil war years on Cape Code. My second favorite thing was the Marine Specialties Army and Navy Surplus Store. It was the single strangest store I have ever been in. It had everything from Donald Trump toilet paper, to boxes of airline placemats, boxes piled up of Irish knit sweaters as well as movie set pieces and antique army supplies hanging from the ceiling. I was going to buy this sweatshirt but they only had a child’s size, I was pretty bummed.




By the time we were done browsing and sick of the crowds in Provincetown we realized we were starving but didn’t know where to eat. I quickly found a random tea house on our way to Mystic and made reservations. Reservations which we almost missed because of a giant explosion/fire on the freeway which we chose to take to save time. Proving yet again back roads are always better. Dunbar House and Tea Room are some of the oldest structures on Cape Code. The original owner/builder came to the country around 1650 having built the main house and carriage house which was then moved in 1740 to its currently location. There have only been five families that have owned the property in its 250 year existence, which explains the remarkable condition of the original flooring. The tea room was opened in 2000 in the carriage house and has a very extensive menu of tea and lunch options.


After filling ourselves to the brim with the tea service we hit the road for Mystic Connecticut. But as it would happen, due to all the tea I needed a pit stop only about an hour into the drive so we pulled off in New Bedford for a restroom and a look about. New Bedford was THE whaling town of New England during the heyday of the practice. Because the town grew big and fast, and then the decline of whaling and textile manufacturing in the later 1800s the town  hit a bit of a slump, and 120 years later is still sort of slumpy. It is still a very active fishing community, as well as non textile manufacturing. It is one of the largest Portuguese immigrant towns in the world. It also happens to be the main location of the Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’. After walking around the local Market Basket for far too long looking for the bathroom we drove around town a bit and stumbled on St. Anthony’s of Padua church, a gorgeous and slightly rundown cathedral, we would have gotten out and tried to go in if we could have found a parking spot but we couldn’t and we were in a hurry to get to Mystic before the sun went down.



After New Bedford we were officially off Cape Code and crossing into Connecticut, but it was a wonderful 12 Hours on Cape Code Massachusetts.

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12 Hours in Plymouth Massachusetts

12 Hours in Plymouth Massachusetts

Last spring I was supposed to be in England again, but could not be, still. So instead we decided to spend a week exploring New England. We kicked off our trip with 12 Hours in Plymouth Massachusetts. Well in truth it started at the  Boston Airport on a very sunny April evening. After flying cross country we hopped in our rental car and headed south toward our first night stop in Plymouth Massachusetts. A drive that took an immensely long time as we were as usual stubbornly avoiding toll highways and also perfectly timed to get stuck in commuter traffic heading out of Boston.


We made it to Plymouth right about sunset, starving and a little bewildered after all the traffic. Turns out passing on the right in the emergency lane is entirely legal and extremely startling if you aren’t accustomed to the practice. We parked in the first available spot somewhat between Plymouth Rock and an area that had a decent amount of restaurants and hurried over to view the oh so famous rock. It was unimpressive, which despite everyone telling me it would be unimpressive still took me by surprise exactly how unimpressive it was. It was so small. Though according to the sign next to it, this was perhaps the “neglected bottom half” or it is missing its “neglected bottom half”. The sign was unclear on all points other than this was only half of the original rock.



After the slightly underwhelming rock viewing we scuttled back toward town to take a look at the Mayflower II before finally getting to eat. We were loosing light fast so we knew we wouldn’t be able to actually get on the boat but we were a little disappointed that due to pandemic related closures the viewing area on the dock was largely blocked off.  We did our usual family style exploration where we try to find every access point by way of every possible door handle, button and window to get a good look at things but she was locked up tight. The best we could do was a bow viewing of some complicated rigging and some discussions amongst our selves on how unlikely it was that well painted by the time it hit American shores. It was also incredibly small given how many people poured out of it thankful to have finally hit land after months at sea. I was all the more thankful to have made it to Plymouth in one day, even with hair raising traffic.



In keeping with our pandemic related closures we had a bit of trouble finding dinner, it seemed despite the fact that the town is quite the tourist destination only a handful of restaurants were open. All with extreme wait times. We wandered around for a bit, looking at menu’s and trying to find possibilities via our phones. Hung out with this lovely gentleman (shark toy below) for a bit trying to decide how long we were willing to wait for what kind of food. Italian or bar food. Not exactly the experience we were hoping for. So we wandered toward some loud music hoping it might offer some sort of local seafood type flair. It was another bar with another long wait time.



But just past that at the end of the road, at the end of the pier was what looked like a seafood market and in that seafood market there was a white board talking about take out food. But once inside we saw there there were tables to eat at and even though they were starting to close up they made us dinner, and about 40 other people that showed up while we were eating at our little picnic table on a covered porch at a seafood market in a lobster town. It was delightful.


I 100% endorse Wood’s Seafood Market in Plymouth. It was funky and laid back with delicious food. Salmon salad, lobster rolls, fried shrimp, fish and chips they had it all. The staff was incredibly kind and patient keeping the kitchen and dining area open well past their close time. After dinner it was very dark and we were very tired so we headed back to our hotel for the night. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn just outside of town, right next to the Home Depot. When we are moving around a lot while traveling the goal for rooms is cheap and clean. Since nearly all of our time is spent out exploring we aren’t looking for luxury accommodations. The next morning we hit the road pretty early, we headed back into town seeking coffee and gluten free breakfast options. We found a place called Gunther Tooties and got breakfast to go, sitting on a park bench in front of the Plymouth Town Hall admiring the cute town, enjoying the spring morning and warm sun. That thus concludes our 12 Hours in Plymouth Massachusetts. Our next destination was Cape Cod for the day, but we also had to make it to Mystic Connecticut by evening to check into our hotel for the next couple days.



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